Sunday 28 May 2017

Sailor nets €440m drugs boat for €58,000

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

AN avid sailor from a landlocked county has paid €58,000 to keep the most famous drug smuggling yacht afloat.

Emer Stafford, from Tipperary, hailed her purchase at auction of the catamaran 'Lucky Day' -- the mother ship in Ireland's €440m cocaine smuggling seizure three years ago -- as "a great bargain".

Emer, who now lives in Killybegs, Co Donegal, said she was thrilled by her purchase and plans to rename the 12-metre vessel 'Imeera', which is Egyptian for princess.

The 'Lucky Day' has been berthed in the northern Spanish port of La Coruna since the drug seizure off West Cork in July 2007,

Bidding for the catamaran, which was sold with a VAT certificate, began at €20,000 and finally ended with Emer's offer of €58,000.

History

"Not at all -- it makes it more interesting," Emer responded to journalists when asked about whether she was concerned about the vessel's history.

She now plans to bring the catamaran back to Killybegs from Spain herself -- and hopes, in the near future, to sail it across the Atlantic.

"It's a dream come true she said -- I'm absolutely delighted," she said.

A keen sailor, Emer already owns a Galway hooker.

She intends to use the catamaran for ocean cruising.

Interestingly, the vessel was auctioned amid a firm commitment that it would be renamed and registered in Ireland under any name of its new owner's choosing.

The auction, handled by Dominic Daly on behalf of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), made a total of €100,000 for the Irish Exchequer.

The sale includes three Land Rover jeeps which went for between €8,500 and €11,000 each and two rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) as well as assorted outboard motors and trailers.

The two RIBs fetched a total of €14,000 -- with the RIB which overturned in Dunlough Bay off West Cork while ferrying 1.5 tonne of high-grade Colombian cocaine ashore selling for a mere €2,000.

The RIB -- which was badly damaged in stormy seas was described by auctioneer Dominic Daly as "a memento in your garden".

The RIBs new owner -- who wishes to remain anonymous -- said he intends dumping the damaged boat, repairing the outboard engines and using the trailer.

Irish Independent

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